Rose Apple tarts with Jasmine Silver Needle Syrup...

I know it's officially Summer, I know the temperatures more or less say so and so does the calendar, but it really doesn't feel like it. The rain! Seriously, how much can it rain in June? So what to do? Well, bake of course! After spending time doing some work on my kitchen last week (more of that another time), all I suddenly wanted to do was bake. I had no plan, it was completely spontaneous and I didn't feel like shopping for ingredients, so I just used what I had at home: apples. Apples are just one of those staples anybody usually has at home, right? They're the in some sense one of the simplest fruits and simple is exactly what I'm currently craving. I don't wish to go into politics here, but the latest events here in the UK (and this has been going on for some time) have unsettled me and it's at times like this that I find myself hiding at home and turning to simple comforts. 

That means that I'm also currently longing after food that is fairly basic (I know, that doesn't make for particularly exciting blog posts...), has only a few good ingredients and a combination of a couple of flavours. Lately I also feel some sort of fatigue creeping in when I see recipes that require twenty obscure ingredients and that have so many different flavours going on that I'm left wondering what the overall dish is about and what I'm supposed to taste first. That doesn't mean that I will stop experimenting and that I don't find some dishes mouthwateringly interesting, but I do sometimes wonder if all these experiments make us forget how good the simple things can be. You know, some cheese and baguette washed down with red wine, a steak with salad, toast with butter and honey, strawberries and cream... None of these things are particularly exciting (or blog-worthy) in a novelty sort of way, but they're all simple and good food. Of course I might add something sweet to my cheese, some lavender to my honey, some mint to my strawberries for some extra flavour, but I just don't want to go completely overboard and make dishes overly fussy or confused. I just don't think that a dish with five flavours topped with a cream with three is what good food is necessarily about. That doesn't mean that it can't be absolutely fantastic, but good food (in my opinion) starts with good and fresh ingredients, not with overly complicated recipes. Anyway, I'm rambling... 

So, for these little tarts I've used two flavours: apples and jasmine. Fruit and floral. A little sweet, a little bitter. I figured it would work nicely and - according to my test people - it does. Here then the recipe. 

Ingredients for 9 little tarts:

  • 110g plain flour (plus extra for dusting)
  • 50g butter, cool
  • 1tbsp very cold water
  • 3 apples (a little more than needed to account for cutting waste)
  • 500ml water
  • 3 jasmine silver needle teabags (I used Jing Tea)
  • 150g sugar
  • butter for greasing the muffin pan

How it's done:

For the dough:

  • sift the flour into a large bowl
  • cut the butter into small chunks and add to the flour
  • work the butter into the flour by gently rubbing the pieces into the flour
  • once the mix is crumbly, add the tablespoon of very cold water
  • bring the dough together
  • add a little more water if needed, the dough should come together clean
  • roll the dough into a ball and put in the fridge for half an hour

For the apples & syrup:

  • bring 500ml water to a boil
  • add the teabags and turn the heat down to a simmer
  • leave to steep for 10 minutes
  • wash the apples (don't peel!), half and cut out the cores
  • now cut the halves into very thin slices
  • add the slices to the hot tea and simmer for 5 minutes - the slices should be bendy but not too soft
  • once soft, take the slices out of the tea and leave to cool 
  • remove the teabags
  • add the sugar to the tea and bring back to a boil
  • reduce to a syrup that is thick enough to spread onto dough - roughly the thickness of a jam

Putting it all together:

  • preheat your oven to 180C
  • place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat down
  • dust a little flour on top
  • now, using a rolling pin, start rolling the dough out without too much pressure
  • try to roll it as thinly as possible (as in really, really thin since it'll still expand a little in the oven) and into a rectangle of around 30x50cm minumum
  • cut the dough into strips of 30cm length and 5cm width
  • now brush the strips with the syrup
  • place apple slices onto the top half of the long length of each strip with the peel side overhanging and the slices overlapping
  • NOTE: there's a fab little YouTube video HERE that explains it much better than my words
  • fold the lower side of the dough over the slices
  • roll the dough and apples up - best shown in the video
  • grease your muffin tin with butter and place the rolled up tarts into the tin
  • drizzle a little syrup on top
  • place in the oven and bake for 40-50 minutes
  • once baked, take the tarts out and leave to cool before sprinkling with a little icing sugar